Introducing Mad Martha….and bedtime books for little gargoyles.


Mad Martha, pictured here on a holiday visit to the Cumberland Pencil Museum.

I feel it would be remiss of me at this stage not to introduce to you someone who shares shelfspace with me.  Mad Martha is another denizen of the shelf, who shares my role as book guardian, and also defends the shelf against spider hordes as and when necessary.  I have extended an invitation to her to join me in my blogging endeavour, and she has kindly accepted that invitation.

Now, to the business of musing.  I have been asked by a follower to share my knowledge in the area of books that are best suited to ushering little gargoyles (and fleshlings) off into the land of Nod.  While there are many books that fit this criteria, I have selected three that I feel do the job admirably…

A classic of the “digital” age

The first of these is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by that wizard of wordsmithing, Mem Fox.   The gentle rhyming text assists little ones to count their own digits instead of the more traditional counting of sheep, in the pursuit of drowsiness.  A word of caution however: the repeated refrain of this book “and each little baby/as everyone knows/has ten little fingers/and ten little toes” may make it a controversial choice for those who do not possess a full complement of fingers or toes.  Or indeed, those that possess a full compliment plus reinforcements.

Who’s in charge here?

Next is Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by the incomparable Mo Willems.  This titanic struggle betwixt reader and pigeon will be all too familar to parents of  stubborn little fleshlings, for whom sleep is a dirty word.  Parents will enjoy the tried and true excuses trotted out by the manipulative pigeon and reading the book with their offspring should significantly reduce a young fleshling’s arsenal of bed-avoiding strategies.  And no, you can’t have a glass of water.

This won’t take long…

Finally, Snugglepuppy (A love song) by Sandra Boynton is the perfect way to sing your mini-me to sleep.  It’s true, the important message in this book doesn’t take long, but it is well worth conveying at any time of day. Loudly. So that the neighbours can hear. And develop a deep-seated envy of your wonderful connection with your young fleshling.  And wish were half the parent you are.

Please feel free to comment and share any other wonderful bedtime books that you feel should be added to the list.

Finally, today is Roald Dahl Day…you may wish to celebrate by eating copious amounts of quality chocolate.  Or perhaps a giant peach.  I wish to celebrate by sharing this quote from the man himself – about the value of bookshelves.

Until next time,


A Stench Blossom by any other name would smell as sweet….


Names are important, aren’t they? This is as true for gargoyles as it is for flesh folk. I myself am named after my great-grandfather – a mighty shelf warrior, who only ever allowed books from his shelf to be borrowed on the condition that the borrower left a token as a guarantee that the book would be returned. This token usually took the form of the first-born spawn of the borrower.

I have noticed, from overheard conversations between flesh folk, that there seems to be a trend toward unique and unusual names for newly minted flesh folk. For the greater good of fleshling kind, I wish to contribute some suggestions for names from the world of fiction. These should scratch any itch for individuality that a new flesh parent may feel. “Verily!” these names shout, “Great thinkers they may not have been, but let no one state that my name-givers were not great readers!”

For the unique and unusual male child:

Voldemort (Harry Potter Series/J.K. Rowling) – a name for parents who wish their child to be ambitious, academic, set apart from common folk and great contributors to hitherto unexplored avenues of evil .

Tumnus (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe/C.S.Lewis) – for parents who envisage a child who has a gift for music, and a desire to help lost children…while plotting their imminent downfall.

Slartibartfast (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy/Douglas Adams) – sure to satisfy lovers of interesting spelling everywhere, this name would be best suited to the child developing an early and keen interest in fjords.

Mistoffelees (Old Possum’s Practical Book of Cats/T.S. Eliot) – Another for the you-neek spelling brigade…and there’s hardly likely to be another kid in the same class with this one, is there?

Oedipus (Corduroy Mansions Series/Alexander McCall Smith) – it goes without saying that this is the perfect choice for the quintessential “Mummy’s boy”.

For the different and diverse female child:

Narcissa (Harry Potter Series/J.K. Rowling) – any teen girl child spending hours in front of the mirror will no doubt be accused of loving herself on at least one occasion….why not take the sting out of the barb and acknowledge this tendency at birth?

Pestilence (The Bible, The 13th Horseman/Barry Hutchison) – traditionally a male name, I’m hoping this one can make the leap across the gender gap and be taken up by trendsetting parents of girls…it has a charming ring to it, don’t you think?

Verruca (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Roald Dahl) – the perfect appellation for that child who is always underfoot.

Tofu (Scotland Street Series/Alexander McCall Smith) – another name that I hope will bridge the gender gap, it acknowledges the tendency of the majority of folk to be blandly average. On the other hand, this name could suit the child who has a gift for making up the numbers in any social situation.

Shelob (The Lord of the Rings Series/J. R. R. Tolkien) – admittedly a strong name for a young lady, possibly best suited to a tomboy. Or a lass who is fond of the number eight. Or who has an affinity with arachnids. Or prefers the hairy-legged look.

While this list should provide any prospective parents with a wealth of names to choose from, further inspiration may be drawn from the following two tomes that I have come across in my bookish wanderings:


Potty, Fartwell and Knob: From Luke Warm to Minty Badger, Extraordinary but True Names of British People by Russell Ash,









Sci-Fi Baby Names: 500 Out of This World Names by Robert Schnakenberg







Until next time,


Stony-faced philosopher, reviewer and personal shopper


While completing my daily search-engine related musings, I came across this stunning article. Surely the perfect item to proclaim to the world your appreciation of strong silent types.

It is available to purchase here:


Ah, I see you’ve arrived! Come in, make yourself comfortable. Tea?


I have begun this web log, or “blog” as the young folk call it, in order to give voice to the oft-overlooked expert opinion inherent to my kind – the bookshelf gargoyle. I will use this (cyber) space to present to you my musings on all things related to books and their ilk. In doing so, I hope to achieve a certain immortality beyond the kind that I already possess as a piece of (handsomely) chiselled stone.

As a bookshelf gargoyle, much of my work involves being in close proximity to the printed word. In fact, one might say that my livelihood depends upon it. Thus, it was with great dismay that I happened upon a recent technological advancement that has the potential to render my kind obsolete. I refer of course, to that most subversive of contraptions: the e-reader.

In reflecting on the potentially lethal ramifications this device may pose to my kind, I present to you a list of 4 reasons why the e-reader will never replace the humble book.

1. Books provide an invaluable contribution to the world of medicine that is unmatched by their electronic cousins. It is impossible, for example, to burst a cyst by whacking it with the online edition of the King James Bible.

2. Printed books provide balance and stability in a way that e-books can’t. I have yet to spy an e-reader propping up the errant leg of a lopsided table.

3. In contrast to an e-book, the printed word is imbued with a sense of passion and gravity that reflects its lofty position in human culture. Therefore, one would not think twice about tossing a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Volume 10: Garrison to Halibut) from a high place onto the unsuspecting head of an objectionable suitor standing below. This would be unthinkable with an e-reader. One might damage the screen.

4. Books provide important social clues to the keen-eyed observer that would be otherwise inaccessible were the subject reading an e-book.  For instance, consider  a highly attractive individual of the opposite sex, casually scrolling through their e-book in a public setting.  Before approaching said individual, it would be handy to know whether they were perusing “Pride and Prejudice” or “Cooking with Kittens: From Pet Shop to Plate in Under 30 Minutes”.

I hope it is obvious from these considered reflections that the printed word has an inviolable place in the world of reading.  Long may it prosper!

And on that note, it appears I have chosen an auspicious day for the beginning of my intellectual toil – a copy of The Corpse Rat King by one Lee Battersby has appeared on the shelf. I look forward to discovering whether Mr. Battersby’s skills extend beyond the selection of intriguing titles.

Until next time,